A judge says he will allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Julie Schenecker, the New Tampa mother accused of murdering her children.
At a hearing Friday, her defense team argued that seeking it was unconstitutional, filing a motion against it. The judge struck down that motion.
Then, a threat Julie Schenecker said to a neighbor took center stage in court.
Public defender Jennifer Spradley calls it irrelevant and prejudicial and never wants a jury to hear it.
"The neighbor took it as normal frustration by a parent of a teenage daughter who just made an off-handed comment," Spradley said.
The threat happened weeks before Schenecker allegedly killed her two children, 16-year-old Calyx and 14-year-old Beau.
The neighbor remembers it like this:
"She saw Ms. Schenecker across the street. She had a glass in her hand and a cigarette, and she asked her, ‘what's wrong or how are you?' And her comment was that she was going to kill Calyx," Spradley said.
But State Prosecutor Stephen Udagawa argues the threat speaks to her sanity and how she was slowing building up to the murders.
It shows, they argue, the strain that was building between mother and daughter.
"Eventually Beau started to behave similar to Calyx, and that's what led to the eventual killing of both children," Udagawa said.
Prosecutors say the relationship became so contentious, there were discussions Calyx would be sent off to boarding school. But before that could happen, investigators say Schenecker shot and killed her children in their home.
After hearing arguments, Judge Emmitt Battles said the statement is relevant. He said it speaks to premeditation, motive and intent.
"The court sees no danger in confusing the jury with this evidence," the judge said.
The hearing comes after 55 pages of evidence in the case were released this week, detailing the mother's history with depression, addiction and bi-polar disorder.
The information included emails between Schenecker, her therapist and her military husband. She and her husband have since divorced.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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